Metalinguistic knowledge of pragmatic rules in school-age children

Louise C Wilkinson, Alex Wilkinson, Francesca Spinelli, Chi-pang Chiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To study the metapragmatic knowledge of children 5-8 years old, we elicited requests from the children through role playing in hypothetical classrooms, and also elicited judgments of the appropriateness of requests. The results showed several effects for age of child and for type of request. Older in comparison with younger children were more likely to produce a variety of indirect requests, judge requests as inappropriate in particular classroom situations, and refer to pragmatic violations as the basis of their judgments. For younger and older children alike, requests for action took indirect forms, while requests for information took direct forms. The results showed that at the age of entering school, children have some metapragmatic knowledge, but that this knowledge becomes noticeably richer over the first few years of formal schooling.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2130
Number of pages2140
JournalChild Development
StatePublished - Dec 1984


  • metapragmatics
  • children
  • requests


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